Professor Bradley White of Trent University has identified the goat gene variant responsible for susceptibility to scrapes.
Now he’s working with Ontario Goat to genotype 1,500 goats to identify those that do not have this gene.
It won’t tell whether they do have the disease, but it will enable goat breeders to cull out animals that have greater susceptibility to the disease.
There’s no reliable test to confirm the disease in a living animal; that comes after they die and their brain can be examined.
There are also no vaccines or drugs that prevent the disease.
The sheep industry has known for some time that certain breeds are more susceptible to scrapie.
One of the major challenges for goat breeders is keeping their flocks free of the disease. Once one animal in their herd dies of scrapies, it is difficult for them to establish that they have been able to eliminate the disease from their herd.